Not too long ago, you only saw well-furnished outside living spaces in the most luxurious of properties, but these days, every home needs an outdoor space to entertain and relax. While outdoor rooms can take many forms, perhaps the most common is as a second kitchen. The kitchen is always the heart of the home, where people tend to congregate to eat and enjoy one another’s company. However, when the weather is nice, it is useful to have another space where you can throw a meal together without heating up your home or preventing people from soaking up the fresh air and fine scenery.
Your second outdoor kitchen doesn’t need to be a perfect mirror of the kitchen inside. In fact, you only need a few appliances and pieces of furniture to keep the space functional and fun. Here’s a quick rundown of the basic necessities for an outdoor kitchen, so you can prepare before the spring and summer entertaining seasons.
There is nothing like grilling on a hot summer day — which is exactly why a grill is the number-one must-have item in any outdoor kitchen. The best option is a built-in grill that fits into your outdoor space like your inside range does, but if you want the flexibility to move your grill around as the seasons change, you can find dozens of freestanding and portable options. Additionally, you need to choose between wood, gas and charcoal. There are pros and cons to each, so you should perform research and make an informed decision. Regardless, you should only buy a grill from a brand you trust; for example, Traeger grills have a legacy of exceptional quality and longevity.
Even if you don’t yet have an outdoor kitchen, odds are that you have an outdoor fridge. Often, second refrigerators aren’t full-sized, so they are less imposing and easier to fit into smaller spaces. It is useful to have a fridge in your outdoor kitchen to store drinks, so you and your guests can stay hydrated and refreshed on warm days outdoors. You can also stash any snacks you wish to serve in your outside fridge, for convenience.
While all fridges can function outside, you would do well to find a unit that is rated for outside use. Outside refrigerators are better insulated to combat more extreme temperature fluctuations, and they are weather-proofed, so precipitation doesn’t get inside and spoil your food and drinks. Finally, outdoor refrigerators are a bit more robust, capable of withstanding dust and debris that can choke inside models.
It takes more than a fridge and fire to cook and serve food, which is why you need some outdoor cabinets for your outdoor kitchen. Some necessities for eating include: cooking utensils, serving dishes, plates, flatware, towels and napkins. It would be a hassle to transport all these things from your inside kitchen to your outdoor living space (and back again!) every time you want to enjoy your yard. It is much more sensible to have a second set for outdoor use and store them outside, too.
Because you won’t be using as many appliances in your outdoor kitchen, you don’t need as many cabinets outside as you have inside. Instead, you might prefer one or two boxes-worth of shelves and a few deep drawers. Your cabinets should be made from a material that can withstand the outdoor elements, like stainless steel, teak or a synthetic material.
You want cabinets as opposed to open shelving because you want something you can place a countertop on. If you invest in nothing else on this list, you should have countertops in your outdoor living space. Counters make it easier to prepare and serve drinks and snacks outside, and they give you and guests a place to put belongings while having outdoor fun. As always, your countertops should be sturdy enough to endure the great outdoors; viable materials include tile, concrete and flagstone are good options.
The outdoors isn’t exactly clean —but that’s part of its charm. Still, you don’t want to be preparing food or eating with dirty hands, so having an outdoor sink is key. The sink can also help with cleaning your outdoor sets of cooking and eating utensils, so you can keep everything that belongs outdoors in one place. You should choose a sink that is deep enough for doing dishes, and you might want a double-bowl sink to make washing, rinsing and drying easier.
Outdoor living is a luxury that every homeowner should be able to enjoy. Outdoor kitchens don’t take up much space and add unbelievable value to your property, so what’s stopping you from investing in these essentials?